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Symantec Said to Be Close to Acquiring VeriSign Unit

Symantec Corp., the world’s largest maker of security software, is in talks to buy the website- authentication business of VeriSign Inc., according to a person familiar with the discussions.

The acquisition may be announced as early as this week, said the person, who asked not to be named because the talks are confidential. Symantec will pay about $1.3 billion for the business, the Wall Street Journal reported yesterday.

VeriSign makes money certifying that websites are legitimate and assuring consumers they are safe for conducting online transactions. The unit responsible for that business had $410.2 million in revenue in 2009. VeriSign, based in Mountain View, California, has sold about a dozen businesses since November 2007 as it works to focus on managing dot-com and dot-net addresses on the Internet.

Brad Williams, a spokesman for VeriSign, declined to comment. Symantec doesn’t comment on rumor or speculation, said Nicole Kenyon, a company spokeswoman.

This would be Symantec’s third acquisition since April 29, when the world’s largest maker of security software said it bought encryption-software companies PGP Corp. and GuardianEdge Technologies Inc. for a combined $370 million.

Symantec, based in Mountain View, dropped 32 cents to $15.63 at 4 p.m. New York time in Nasdaq Stock Market trading. VeriSign, the biggest manager of computers that direct Internet traffic, fell 24 cents to $27.99.

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